Trans Iowa Frequently Asked Questions Page
Here you will find what I have found to be the most frequently asked questions about Trans Iowa over the years. Now that Trans Iowa doesn't lean on Mountain Bike Review's Endurance Forum anymore, I figured it was about time to do this. So, here we go.......
Note: These questions are divided up into sections that cover specific topics. If you can not find a question answered here, there is e-mail: Just shoot me your question here. However; please look through this page first!
- How long is Trans Iowa?
- What's the course like?
There are towns, cities, and villages along the way, and therefore; some paved road, as well. This is kept to an absolute minimum. Typically 90% or more of courses are dirt and gravel road.
Terrain can vary from table top flat to insane gradients of more than 15% for up to a half mile or more. Most of the time, you'll either be going up or down, and doing that over and over, ad infinitum!
- What's the deal with time limits? How does that work?
Essentially you haven't got a lot of time for lolly-gagging around during this challenge. Riders must maintain a distance covered per hour that is 10 miles or greater to reach the checkpoints and the finish line on time. (Note: I didn't say "average speed", because it isn't about that. You must include all time spent- Riding time, mechanicals time, eating time, resting time, nature break time, and whatever. It has to be 10 miles covered on course per hour or greater. The more you stop, the less miles per hour you cover. Simple.)
Riders will start the event with a partial set of cues leading them to a checkpoint. Each event has at least one checkpoint and usually more than one. Each checkpoint will have a published cut off time, which riders will be informed of well in advance. If riders navigate to a checkpoint on time, they receive another set of cue sheets to navigate to the next checkpoint, or the finish line. If you are late, even by one minute, you are finished. We won't hand out more cues to late comers.
- What are the cue sheets like? How does navigation work?
122.7 R on Impala Rd.
129.5 L on 265th Ave.
Mileages reset at checkpoints. Cue sheets typically will be sized to fit into small zip-loc type sandwich bags or most any commercially available bicycle cue sheet holder. By the way, they don't fare too well if they get wet. Just a tip for ya.....
Riders must use a well calibrated computer, have a lighting system to read cues by, lighting to see down the road, and lighting to see road signs with. (Plus a red tail light!)
Most every Iowa gravel road has a "street sign" on the corner of intersections. When this isn't the case, (Rare), we will mark a corner with flags. (Technique for this will be explained at the pre-race meeting.)
- Are most of the finishers accomplished bike racers?
- What causes most of the non-finishers to abandon?
I know several finishers have told me a similar version of the following: Once you get halfway through, the rest is totally mental strength. So, being a great racer, a good physical, strong person, having the lowest heart rate, or the best recovery time doesn't mean squat if you can't mentally push through the obstacles you will face at 2am Saturday evening on a Trans Iowa.
And then again, you could snap your derailleur off at Mile 60 and be done as well! Or have it pour down rain, and have the course and Nature shut you down. Trans Iowa is soooo unpredictable, that even if you come in with 100% physical and mental capacities, you still might not finish. And that in itself is one of the toughest things to swallow for many that look at this event. All those months of training, shot down in a short moment that you had no control over. I know many riders that are haunted, (Yes-literally haunted in their dreams), by episodes like T.I.V2, or T.I.V6 that had such poor conditions weather-wise and subsequently, on course, that they could not finish, no matter what.
So, you've been warned!
- What is the schedule of events typically like?
There is a Pre-Race Meeting which is mandatory, and is held the night before the event.
- How much training do you think is necessary to complete the course inside the time limit?
As far as distances go, I would say that if you start out riding 3hrs and work your way up from there to 5-10 hours at a crack, you'll be in good shape. I'm talking straight through time riding with no breaks. Try to keep your speeds up above 10mph average, and try to ride gravel, and lots of hills!!